Payment giant Visa has cut the ribbon on its European innovation centre in London, which at 1,000 square metres is its biggest creative space in the world.
While Brexit is looming, global financial services firm Visa has opened the innovation centre at its European Headquarters in London’s Paddington Basin, as it looks to inspire the next generation of payments technology.
At its opening event, which came complete with a tour from interactive robot Pepper, Jim McCarthy, Visa vice president for innovation, said: ‘We’ve had great success doing this in our centres globally and are very excited to be opening a state-of-the art facility in Europe.’
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Grand opening: The innovation centre opened on Tuesday in London – and Visa hopes it will spark future technology
The new space in London joins a global network of Visa innovation centres located in technology hotspots, such as Dubai, Miami, San Francisco, Singapore and Tel Aviv.
It comes as mobile payments have tripled in the last year while 5billion contactless payments were made, the global giant said.
Visa is hoping the immersive environment, in which it can work side-by-side with financial institutions, merchants and other partners will help develop the next generation of ‘payment solutions’.
At the tour, it revealed a new payment ring which users wear on their finger, as another method of contactless.
The plastic rings come in all different sizes to suit the owner and which finger they choose to wear it on.
Users link their credit or debit card to the ring and swipe to spend. It is not yet available to the public but was trialled by athletes at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Sizing up: Visa were showing off their NFC payment rings at the event
Inside the centre, it has a Bentley Continental GT as it looks to develop the ‘Internet of Things,’ which is likely to see 20billion connected devices by 2020.
The Internet of Things is the concept of connecting any device with an off/on switch to the internet – from cars to coffee makers, lighting to washing machines.
It has an app in prototype in which Bentley drivers may, in the future, be able to pay for fuel with a tap of their tablet, order dinner to arrive when they get home and pay for tolls automatically when needed.
Car giant: Visa has a Bentley on display at the centre and it has a prototype app for the ‘Internet of Things’
Visa also had a virtual reality station which allowed people to put on Samsung VR goggles.
Here, we were taken to a virtual stadium, in which users can select seats around the whole venue to check before they buy. If they are happy, they can buy the tickets.
It also showed off how people can use biometrics, including setting up payments via ‘selfie’ and voice recognition.
Robot help: Inside the innovation centre lurked Pepper the robot, who was offering tours
And on the stadium theme, the innovation centre is where it has come up with a new ‘Visa Venue’ prototype app over a five day period.
It says it was approached by a number of stadium makers across the world for better payment solutions for those who attend events, such as football matches.
This app allows customers to buy their tickets, pre-order food and drinks and along with an interactive map to show the quickest way to get to their seats.
Visa says it handled $8.2trillion worth of payments globally last year and mobile and e-commerce is now where the major growth is coming from.
It adds that the payments industry is now shifting from plastic to digital, and it said at the event that it wants to make sure that every internet-connected device, appliance or wearable can become a secure place for commerce.
Its mantra is to engage, experience and collaborate, and it believes this innovation centre will help benefit the public in the future.
Rajesh Agrawal, deputy mayor for business, said: ‘London is a global fintech leader because we have been able to combine our traditional strength in financial services with our growing talent for tech and our innovative and entrepreneurial spirit.
‘I am delighted that Visa is launching this new innovation centre in London, bolstering our flourishing global tech and fintech reputation and proving that London is open to great ideas and innovation.’
Jim McCarthy adds: ‘What makes the approach we take in our innovation centres unique is that they’re all about collaborating with clients to solve real world, consumer pain points or business problems using digital solutions.’
Visa hasn’t revealed to This is Money how much it has invested in the centre.